Here’s what staring at my face for hours on end made me realise…
A lot of people might assume that, based on the simple fact that one of my main hobbies involves looking at my face for hours at a time, I probably don’t suffer from self esteem issues. No, I am not a mirror polisher or Selfie Stick tester (I can’t tell if the would be the dream or a nightmare) but rather someone who posts videos (‘vlogs’, if you will) on the internet in the hope that someone somewhere might find them even a little bit funny. I aim to make people smile. I am a Youtuber. Naturally, this involves editing footage of myself for anywhere between 20 minutes and 2 hours depending on how much caffeine I’ve had, or how long I managed to talk about the virtues and vices of any given topic.
I see a lot of my face.
Sometimes I can’t help but think this isn’t great psychologically; I notice spots I never knew I had in places I never knew could get spots, I notice holes in my eyebrows where I haven’t done my makeup properly, or I notice how flat/excessively voluminous my hair is that day. Or I notice all three at once: Youtube-ing often serves as this kind of constant reminder that, dear lord, I’m not perfect. I think we have all probably noticed at least one of the above list on ourselves at some point in our lives. Life is busy, we don’t always have time to double check we haven’t cocked up our eyeliner. Eyeliner wings, like life, are hard. But it’s okay, because (controversial point alert) WE’RE HUMAN. These things happen.
Maybe you could argue that you never see someone like Zoella facing these traumas, but I would bet my cat that she does. And I love my cat, guys. She even has her own instagram (@TinkleMags) We just might not notice them because firstly she knows how to light her videos in extra-flattering ways (I sometimes just switch on a lamp if I’m feeling energetic) and secondly we rarely actually notice flaws on other people. This time two years ago, I wouldn’t put any extra effort into my appearance prior to filming a video, and upon getting to the editing stage I’d berate myself for not doing so. I’d often upload with ’Sorry about my hair’, ‘Ignore the huge spot on my face’ or ‘Yes, I know my lipstick is on my teeth’ desperately typed into the description box. To me, these things RUINED a video. Yet after I while I noticed that, even if I didn’t strategically add an apology, no one commented on my appearance. All my comments were compliments on the content of the video, or my personality or questions about my topic of choice. It slowly dawned on me that people were watching my videos to hear me talk, not to stare blankly at my face and attempt to find faults in it -although this was essentially what I did when I watched them back. But after realising that no one cared, I caught on and did the same. I have EVEN uploaded videos now wearing pyjamas and no makeup. And it feels GREAT.
I guarantee you that if you stood in front of a mirror and listed all the things you dislike about your appearance, then asked a stranger to list all the things they think you might dislike about your appearance, there would be a HUGE difference (and I promise it is not just because they’re being polite/they’re busy/they’re blind). I don’t strictly advise that you actually do this, especially not in London because you might get side eye so strong you don’t know how to feel about life anymore.
The fact is, we see ourselves a lot, whether it’s on editing software or simply in the mirror, so we have a pretty good idea of what our face looks like. This means that when you get a spot or bad hair day, it is unusual in comparison with the face you see all the time, so this sounds alarm bells in your head that make you think ‘OH GOD. LOOK AT THIS MOUNTAIN OF PUS ARISING FROM MY CHEEK. EVERYONE WILL SEE IT. EVERYONE WILL THINK IT’S GROSS. I HAVE NO CHOICE BUT TO MOVE TO THE MOUNTAINS AND BECOME A HIMALAYAN GOAT HERDER.’ I have a news flash for you – no one else thinks that. And not just because I used a weird example.
So next time you find yourself thinking along those lines, take a minute to put things into perspective. You won’t have to become a goat herder, but If you want to, then that’s okay too.
Follow Ania on twitter: @aniamags
Find Ania’s youtube: youtube.com/user/aniamags